Can we choose who we love?

Do we choose who we love? Or is love some involuntary emotional reaction?

Because it’s so nebulous, love gives way to the more woo-woo, feel-good corners of personal development. But love deserves better.

What is love? According to the dictionary: (n) an intense feeling of deep affection, (v) feel deep affection for.

I don’t know about you, but that definition seems really bland to me. It leaves out so much of what I think of and commit to when I say I love someone.

Which makes me wonder…have I really thought about my definition of love? Is my definition of love one that I determined – or did I inherit this definition? 

Way too many people are still walking around the world thinking that love is what mom/dad gave them. That’s their definition of love – “love: (n) what mom/dad did.” 

That’s why so many people marry their mom/dad. 

All they know of love is an affectionate experience, perpetually there despite their many shenanigans. 

They never stop to consider that their mom/dad made the choice to love them. 

But as an adult, we need to define our love. 

What does it mean to you when you love someone? 

What does it mean to be loved by someone? 

I imagine our individual definitions are more flavorful than the dictionary version. 

We have all sorts of conditions and expressions, expectations, forms, styles, and requirements. 

All of which lend love to confusion – making it hard for us to give and receive love in any expression. 

What if we give our love and it isn’t reciprocated? What if they don’t love us the way we want them to? What if we love them and they hurt us? What if, what if, what if? 

It’s really no wonder why we just leave love in the realm of the woo-woo. It’s safer for us there. 

If we really thought about what it means to love and be loved it would truly scare us. 

It would scare us because we would realize that in order to be loved, someone else has to choose to love us. 

In order to feel loved, we have to choose to be open to receiving someone else’s expression of love. 

That sounds awfully messy. 

It leaves us really vulnerable. 

And it makes us responsible for our own lovability. 

If people choose who they love, why would someone choose to love me? 

If love is a choice, is it possible to love unconditionally? 

For unconditional love to be possible, we have to eliminate choice. 

Unconditional love says, “I cannot choose to deny that person my love.” 

So then, is unconditional love a real thing? Is unconditional love possible? 

Well, is it possible to ever entirely eliminate choice? 

As long as we are alive, we have the power of choice. 

For every example of relationships that we imagine would define unconditional love, there’s an example that negates it. 

The big one: “a mother’s love for her child is unconditional.” 

And yet, just this week I saw a video of a “mother” putting her newborn baby in a dumpster. 

There is no relationship in which love – much less unconditional love – is the default setting. 

When you say, “I have no choice but to love my kid/spouse/friend,” then you have made the choice for love to remain in spite of any other feeling you may have for them. 

In every relationship – familial, platonic, romantic, and otherwise – love is a choice. 

Unconditional love does not exist on its own. It has to be created. 

Unconditional love is created through the power of decision – the elimination of all other possibilities. 

That’s what makes unconditional love so special – it’s a commitment to choose love regardless of, or in addition to, any other available option. 

That’s why unconditional love is so special – and rare.

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